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World News

Website aiming to prevent suicides by early intervention welcomed by Premier's national Christian helpline

by Donna Birrell

A new online tool aimed at tackling the increase in suicide and self-harm has been launched today.

The browser, known as Ripple, recognises harmful web searches and intervenes to help prevent individuals from taking their own life.

www.ripplesuicideprevention.com was set up by Alice Hendy, whose brother took his own life after researching methods online.

Jonathan Clark who runs Premier Lifeline, the national Christian helpline, welcomes the idea:

"I've been looking at this and I think it's a brilliant idea. It's the whole thing about trying to intervene at the point where if someone is searching, then this search engine picks it up and alerts and actually does something to try to say to people 'you are at this stage. There's a need to help you, there's a need to actually intervene.' And the aim is to save lives through innovative online intervention.

"Often, if you can intervene, you can actually help that person stop what is happening. And so one of the key things is intervention - trying to be there, trying to offer something at that time of need."

The World Health Organisation says more than 700,000 people a year take their own lives every year and internet searches for suicide methods are up by more than 50 percent from January 2019, according to data from Semrush.

Jonathan Clark says Premier Lifeline is also experiencing an increase in the number of callers:

"Over the last 18 months, we have gone through the most horrendous situation in people's lives through the pandemic. And what's happened is that we've had a lot of isolation or loss and loneliness. 

"With Lifeline the number of calls we're getting has gone up, the intensity of the calls has gone up. And people have really struggled, in addition to those who already have mental health issues.

"What we can do is look out for people. Yes, we can pray for people, but often what we're really looking for is a change.

"The pandemic itself, the fear, the anxiety, the disruption to life has also made a lot of other people struggle. In people's attitudes, in how they relate to us, in how they relate to things they would normally enjoy. It may be indicative of a depression, it may be indicative of the fact that something is really building up inside and they need to express it. 

"So, the good thing that we can do is be there for them. Give them a safe space, whether that's as an individual or as local churches, and it's certainly what we at Lifeline hope to do."

And you can contact Premier Lifeline confidentially, free of charge, every day of the year between 9am and midnight on 0300 111 0101.

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